We all can relate to the experience of eagerly diving into a book, either for a book club or an author’s highly anticipated latest release, or something recommended by a friend, and find ourselves 50 pages into the book and absolutely hating it. From characters to plot, to writing in general, the book simply doesn’t hold our attention and it’s become more of a chore than a pleasure to read. At this moment we’re faced with a dilemma: do we soldier on or do we toss the book aside?
There are two sides to every argument, and this scenario is no exception. On one side we can argue that time’s too short to read bad books. We can just toss them to to the side and pronounce them “terrible” or “poorly written” or label the book as the “worst thing I’ve ever read.” This is a very reasonable argument: most often we are reading for pleasure, and if a book doesn’t give us that feeling of enjoyment, then why would we continue to read it, believing that any further time spent reading is wasted?
On the other side, if we don’t read, what are we saying about literature as a whole? To write a book is hard, even for those who are considered great writers. There’s something to be said for a little strength and patience when it comes to a book that is challenging – not because it exceeds intellectual ability but because you’re just not interested. So much of what we choose to read is about taste and timing. A writer might be good, but just not in our taste, or we’re just not in the right place/interest level for a particular book.
Book seasoned readers, there’s nothing more frustrating than battling our way through a book that just doesn’t speak to us. Because every reader has encountered this situation, we can all relate to finding ourselves at a crossroads: to read or not to read. If you’ve found yourself at this critical juncture, we suggest asking a few considerations before tossing the book aside:
5 Considerations Before Tossing A Book Aside
1. Consider why you’re reading the book. Is it for your own pleasure, for book club, because it’s your favorite author? Is this a book that’s out of your comfort zone?
2. Consider your circumstances. Is it really busy at work right now? Are you going on vacation? Are you just not in the mood for this type of book? There are a million reasons why we might find a book distasteful and it could be outside circumstances that negatively impact our current attitude towards a story.
If you’ve determined that the book is just not a part of your life right now, set it aside and move on. But if you’ve decided to continue reading, then move on to the next steps.
3. Once you’ve decided to continue reading, set up a schedule and eliminate distractions. You can do a little math here and figure out just how many pages you need to read to get the book done in a set amount of time. And when you sit down to read, remove any possible distractions (smart phones, tablets, etc) that might be a temptation away from the book.
4. Exercise a little patience. Just because the first 100 pages were a bit of a slog doesn’t mean that the next 100 pages will be the same. Consider what the author is trying to accomplish up to the point where you’ve become frustrated and give them a dose of your patience.
5. Find strength. Not to be melodramatic, but reading a book that we don’t enjoy requires a certain amount of strength, or endurance, really. Once you’ve committed to reading the book, dig down deep to rally the mental strength to bring you to the book’s end.
So much of what we choose to read is a matter of taste, and if a book just isn’t our taste doesn’t mean that it is unworthy or unreadable. These five considerations may not resolve whether or not you should finish reading a book you don’t like, but it does invite asking ourselves a few questions before tossing the book aside. Ultimately, it seems unfair to judge a book as unreadable until you’ve actually read the book, but the experience ought not to be painful. Put the book back on your bookshelf to read later or power through and give the book an opportunity to shine.